Archive for the ‘Trip report’ Category

Hot Lemonade And The Rogue Less Traveled

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Deschutes River, Oregon

When fires ignited by lightning began to burn in the Rogue River corridor on July 26th we held our breaths to see what would happen next and how that might affect our August trips.  The Rogue is a beautifully forested river that hasn’t seen a major fire in many years.  It had been spared from being involved in the 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire complex back in 2002 when that fire stopped just shy of the southern boundary of the river’s view shed along Bear Camp Road. This time the fire had started within the corridor and the potential for a big burn seemed high.

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I wish it were this simple. Fires were a big factor on many rivers in the west this year.

On July 31st the BLM closed the Wild and Scenic portion of the river from the put in at Grave Creek to Marial, just above Mule Creek Canyon.  In some cases the fire had burned very close to the river and, remarkably, it had been solely limited to the south (river left) side. We had to cancel our August 7th trip.

We then turned our attention to our August 14 and 21st dates. Brainstorming with our outfitter, Jim Ritter of Rogue River Journeys, we decided to move the next trip to the Deschutes in Northeastern Oregon, just north of Bend. The Deschutes fit a number of criteria in terms of length of run, difficulty and a location that wasn’t ridiculously far from people’s original travel plans.  Most of all, it wasn’t on fire.

Making the switch wasn’t without its challenges and rewarding moments.  I love the boating community and the way the outfitters support each other, kinda like living in a small town where everyone is willing to pitch in and help. We activated the boating network and reconnected with friends we hadn’t talked with in a long time. Fellow kayak instructors, raft company owners and private boaters all helped us gather info about the run before we ever paddled it.

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Mary and our vehicle’s solar powered BPS (Buddhist Positioning System) otherwise know as a prayer wheel.

Since this would be our first time down the Deschutes and wanting to provide the best trip possible, Mary and I headed to the north with enough time to get in a quick two-day paddle of the 52 mile stretch from Warm Springs to Sandy Beach before our August 14th launch. The experience was greatly aided with the help of Brian Sykes and his guides at Ouzel Rafting who let us paddle along on an overnight trip and pick the brains of the guides about camps and the like.

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Bucksin Mary putting the hammer down on a 32 mile scouting day.

RRJ guides Katherine, Saylor, Ross and Esa showed up late the night before the launch, weary from the travel but excited about a new adventure and all of us being together again on the water.  The next morning we rigged and talk more with Tim, an Ouzel guide with great knowledge who guided with our trip. Jim Ritter, RRJ manager extraordinaire and our kayak guests arrived in time for lunch after a scenic drive from Medford along the upper reaches of the Rogue. Then we hit the water.

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First night’s camp.

What I  saw during the trip was the coming together of a great group of folks; guides who were motivated to run the best trip possible and guests who wanted to spend multiple days on the river while having a good time, learning new skills and improving existing ones.  The Deschutes did not disappoint.  The last day of our run was a nice climax to the trip, full of great rapids.

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Classroom with a view. Mary leads a “chalk talk” about strategies before leaving camp day 2.

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Super guides that know how to keep it fun while providing a great trip.

The most common comment we got from folks as we said good bye? “See you on the Rogue next year”.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

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Middle Fork Salmon July 3 – 8, 2013

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A glance over the bank at Boundary Creek put in revealed some color in the water after a night’s heavy rain.

A gully washer upstream of the Middle Fork’s put in of Boundary Creek the night before our launch didn’t bring the river up, but it did wash a lot of ash from an old forest fire into the river.  The unusual silt in the river made it a challenge to read the water where shallow rocks lurked invisibly just under the surface.

With the challenges of those first 12 miles behind us, we settled into camp at Sheepeater Hot Springs. With a walk of about 300 yards from the kitchen, you can bet there was a hole lot of soaking going on! Nothing better than waking up in the hot springs with a cup of hot coffee in hand!

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Evening color at Sheepeater camp at the end of the day.

Day two was the fourth of July and we were bound for Marble Camp. The river was still turbid but more channelized so it was easier to navigate. This stretch provides a good warm up leading down to Pistol Creek, the key rapid of the day.  From there the rapids ease and it is a nice paddle to camp.

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Sweep boat driver and game master Zack B. ready for the fourth of July.

Marble is home to one of the finest surf waves on the river. It’s nice to camp there because if you don’t have the energy to surf at the end of the day, there is always the next morning.  We don’t always luck out and get Marble camp, but when we do, we make the most of it.

The wave at Marble is, for many, their first high speed surf.  Once established on the wave you feel as if the water is racing by at 60 mph.  The challenge is getting on the wave. While there is a great eddy on river left  to stage from, it is unforgiving if you are unable to scramble back into the eddy before you get washed downstream.  Once below the wave it’s either a tricky ferry from the opposite side of the river, a carry back up above the wave or, if the level is right, a human rope tow whereby someone stands in the water and pulls people past a surge of water that guards the eddy. The water level was right and with one of us positioned on a submerged rock in the eddy itself, we were able to push people onto the wave if they needed an assist. Between a session in the evening and another long one the next morning, everyone was giving it a go, including a 72 year old Henry. What a surf!!

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Normally guiding one of the rafts, Anika borrowed some gear and showed us how it was done.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the trip, I’ll let these photos tell the rest of the story.  Lets just say this group was into having a good time, from playing and learning on the river to hoola-hooping in camp, we all had a lot of fun.  Special thanks to the crew at ECHO who provided great support; Anika, Zack, Tessa, Colleen and Dewi plus Chris Lewis, our third kayak guide. Great fun everyone!

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One big happy group on the Middle Fork.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

Middle Fork Salmon, June 25, 2013

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Tristin ripping it up on the wave at Marble during an early morning surf.

There were lot’s of familiar faces for our first trip of the season down the Middle Fork Salmon. Tom, who probably has more trips on the MF than Mary and myself combined, made the long drive from Texas, Arn and Deb as well as Jim S. arrived from Colorado, Jane, one of Mary’s old friends from NOC days,  used the trip as an excuse to bring her busy kayaking family together from Maryland. California was well represented by Kurt, Tristin, Dave, Vicki, Pam and Bill K.  Also from Cali was our adopted raft passenger Bill W. who has done numerous trips with ECHO over the years. Once he stumbled onto a trip of ours, he had such a good time he’s now a member of the tribe. Rounding out the trip and all the way from the flooded city of Calgary, Canada was Paul.

For the first day and half we had a steady drizzle of rain and a stop at Trail Flat hot springs along the river’s edge gave temporary relief from the cold.

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Kayakers knocking down the chill of a rainy day with a soak in Trail Flat hot springs.

By the afternoon of day 2 the clouds were breaking and the sun warmed our camp at Marble and shown a spotlight on the surfwave just below. People took advantage of the sunshine to play frizbee golf & bacci ball, hike to a vista point behind camp or just sit and relax.

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One tight family, Luke, Steve, Jack and Jane discuss strategy during a lively game of bacci ball.

On day 3 the diehard surfers in the group enjoyed a morning surf session before paddling down to catch the rest of the group that were enjoying a soak at Sunflower hot springs. Luck had been with us on the assignment of camps and we scored Loon with one of the best hot springs on the entire trip just a mile up the creek.

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Loon Creek near it’s confluence with the Middle Fork.

Paddling into camp late afternoon of day 4 we had covered just over twenty four miles that were packed with great whitewater and dramatic changes in the canyon’s character. We were camped amongst the Ponderosa pines at Survey camp.  The margaritas had been out for an hour now and the guides had strung up a rope between trees and draped it with “dare wear”, a mix of thrift store costumes for all to wear should they decide to. I’m always surprised at who wears what, but hey, “what happens on the river, stays on the river”. Dressed up, seated in a circle, we listen intently as 16 year old Jack gave us his TED Talk (No kidding, to see the original talk, minus the costume, click here). Proof again that you never know what you’re going to learn on a river trip. Our many talented musicians played into the night with all of us enjoying one another’s company and conversation.

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No shortage of good conversation around camp.

Our last two days we paddled through the Impassable Canyon, a name that speaks of the steep terrain.  The river is by far the only way to navigate this rugged landscape. After an awesome morning of great rapids our final day, we confluenced with the Main then crashed through the mighty, Grand Canyon-style Kraemer rapid to reach the take-out. As Henry B says, “The Middle Fork trip references my whole year. There’s what happens after the Middle Fork, and then, there’s what happens before the Middle Fork.” We hope many wonderful things happen in your lives before your next Middle Fork trip!!

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The sweep boat leaves camp early morning our last day in the Impassable Canyon.

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Thanks everyone for kicking off the Middle Fork season with us.

Click photos for larger view.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

Finally, A Trip Down The Selway River

Chances are you have a bucket list of rivers you would love to do some day.  On our list has always been the Selway River in Idaho, one of the original rivers included into the wild and scenic river system back in 1968. The permitted section is forty-five miles long, is located in the rugged Selway-Bitteroot wilderness in Idaho and boasts a healthy forest of Red Cedar and Douglas Fir.  The forest service only allows one launch a day which makes these permits hard to get, combine this with a short window of runnable flows and you can see why it might take a while to get on it.

We had been invited before, more than once, but for one reason or another it never worked out, until this year.  Our good friend Dave S. pulled the permit and put together a fun group of folks from across the country. The launch date in mid- June meant it would fit perfectly before our annual Middle Fork Salmon trips. We were 16 people in five rafts and five kayaks on  what seemed to be a user friendly flow of between 5,000-6,000 cfs (gauge at Lowell below take out). While we never really added it up, the combined years of river experience were probably close to 1,000 (o.k., I exaggerate, but it was a lot). The poor folks who were on their first multi-day trip had to endure a lot of year’s worth of river stories. For the five days we were on the water, we saw no other groups floating the river and we felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Clear skies and sunshine were with us for the first three days, then the sun gave way to clouds and rain for the remainder of the trip- it didn’t seem to matter, we were prepared and having an outstanding time! We hope to be back but I’d prefer not to wait another 30 years to make it happen.

If it’s not there already, put the Selway on your list.

A little aside:  Along with us on the trip were Kevin Lewis of Idaho Rivers United and Dave Steindorf of American Whitewater. We learned a lot from these two about the challenges our country’s rivers and their ecosystems face. Please click on the links, learn about the important work these organizations do and please support them.

Idaho Rivers United

American Whitwater

Click photos for larger view.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

Important Updates On Trip Offerings

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We wanted to make a quick post about some of our offerings, additions and discounts that are happening. For more details on any of our trips give us a call or visit our website at www.adventurekayaking.com

  • New Rogue River date added August 21-24, 2013. Due to popular demand (for the second year in a row) we have added a third trip to our Rogue offerings.  This 4-day, raft supported camp trip is a great way to sample what it is to eat, sleep and live along a river while having fun paddling your way downstream.
  • Grand Canyon, in addition to our regular fall date next year we are also offering a trip in the spring. Join us May 13 – 26, 2014 and experience the canyon in bloom.
  • Bhutan: exotic, beautiful, fascinating, and home to some of the most gracious, gentle people on earth.  This small Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom has plenty to offer from rivers, scenery and culture.  We are really excited about the changes to this year’s Class III and Class IV itineraries.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

Bhutan Class IV+ Kayaking Trip Report.

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In the last post, Mary talked about the serendipitous nature of events in Bhutan. We were completely unaware the first day of our Class IV+ trip coincided with Buddha’s descension, his birthday. For Buddhists worldwide, the celebration of Buddha Shakyamuni’s returned to earth, in the lifetime he at last reached enlightenment, is the most sacred of days.

From the Paro airport (in the western part of Bhutan) we made our way into the heart of town. We could see people everywhere were dressed in their finest, women in kiras and men in ghos. The traditional dress is required for Bhutanese when visiting religious sites and government offices. So began our day! We were treated to a visual feast of decoration and colorful Bhutanese in pilgrimage to holy temples and dzongs. This celebration and worship was being played out throughout Bhutan, and by Buddhists the globe over.

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Bhutan Class III Kayaking And Cultural Tour

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Kuzusambo la!

Bhutan! It is often referred to as a magical Kingdom. Here are two examples of what just happens there.

Before the first trip began, Phil and I were meeting with Yougs, our good friend and outfitter in Bhutan, for lunch in our hotel restaurant. Suddenly he is bolt upright -on his feet like a soldier, then does a deep bow. We rise and turn to see a top Minister walking briskly toward him, greeting Yougs with kind words and questions as he takes his hand. We bumble into a bow, and he shakes our hands and welcomes us to the country. He then strides past, teenage kids in tow, and sits to eat at the next table. Bhutan Day One: Lunch with the Minister.

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